Thursday, July 26, 2012

Chick-Fil-A is not horrible. Well, not horrible enough to legislate against.

Disclaimer before you assume I'm Christian:  I am (by the popular view of the definition) Agnostic.  Basically, everything Neil DeGrasse Tyson says in this 3 minute video is pretty much how I feel:


Obviously, people are, or should be aware of the firestorm that was caused when the President of Chick-Fil-A, Dan Cathy, said that his company had donated $$ towards causes that rallyed against same-sex marriage.  He did so based on his (kinda silly) religious beliefs, but fine.

In an earlier post,  I laid out why (1) I support same sex marriage, but (2) would rather all governments just recognize civil unions, regardless of sex, to avoid equal protection problems.

So.  Let me get this "straight" (ha!):  Because I favor same-sex marriage, I should boycott Chick-Fil-A until THEY favor those marriages too, or at least until they shut up about not supporting them, right?

That's so wrong.

I patronize many companies.  If I were to scrutinze each company's social policies to match my particular viewpoint, I'd likely go hungry, not have as many cool gadgets as I like, and would almost certainly be pants-less.  And really, who wants to see THAT?  (Calm down, Marcus Bachmann)

Seriously, though -- Nike?  Almost ANY clothing manufacturer?  Apple?  How about the recognition that MOST corporate CEOs are super conservative themselves, and no doubt direct the money they earn from their jobs to conservative causes?  How about toys for your kids?  Are any NOT made in China, a repressive regime that routinely works to undermine this country while owning us at the same time?  Do we have to boycott companies that use products made in China?  Do we have to boycott them all?  That's wholly unrealistic, although it would delight me if a company promoted that their products were Made in the USA. 

By the way, at the place you buy GASOLINE(!?) do they also sell cigarettes?  How do you sleep at night, knowing you killing the environment/animals/air or whatever.  Is it fair for anyone to assume you HATE the environment because you buy gasoline (hell, or even tobacco?).  Or, just maybe, could it be a little much?

Anyway, this outrage over CFA is a little contrived:

First of all, who was genuinely surprised by CFA's stance?  They're closed on Sundays!  They make a point of saying why they are closed on Sundays (family, worship, apple pie, all that crapola).  Of COURSE the founders/leaders aren't down with same-sex marriage!  You just figured that out because of the interview?

Next, the reaction by some political leaders to fall all over themselves telling CFA that they WON'T let them do business in their cities is outrageous.  Hey Rahm Emanuel, you have a drug/murder problem in your city, but you want to take a stance against a LAWFUL business?  A business that makes a point to serve anyone, without regard to their stance? 

I have friends who own guns.  Should I assume they support the NRA completely?  Should I assume they oppose ALL gun control?  What if they DID oppose all gun control?  I might think them mistaken, but the logical leaps I might choose to take over that single piece of info would be unwarranted, and decidedly unskeptical.  Gun ownership is LEGAL.  Someone choosing to buy a gun doesn't make them supportive of all bad things OTHER gun owners say/do.  Why is it different with a chicken sandwich?

The forthcoming boycott/"let's-all-go-eat-at-CFA" events (both happening on the same day, 1 August 2012) is just silliness a little much.  Eat there if you like the food, don't if you don't.  Or don't if you don't like how they spend their profits.  Eat there if you hate "teh gayz" and want to support them.  This is the United States, you have that right to act within the law.

The founder had the right to voice his opinion.  People have the right to boycott . . . but this business of trying to PREVENT business is nonsense.  THAT is what upsets me the most.

I don't even eat at CFA that often, but if I were going to eat fast food, it's the place I'd choose.  The chicken is tasty, the lower-calorie options are good, their restaurants are often SPOTLESS (can you say that about some of the shadier McD's?), and their employees are straight out of a 50s comic book, although they are often of diverse backgrounds.

Which reminds me -- are liberal groups going to target employees of CFA?  Why wouldn't they?  Why wouldn't we find store managers, folks who want to put food on their family's table (pun, sorry), and accuse them of being "hate merchants?"  Why are they going to even let line workers off the hook? 

Because -- that would be bad politics.  And that is what gets me -- this boycott/exhortation to eat there is all about politics.  No one was surprised by the stance, but now that the company president spoke up, people want to fall all over themselves to show that they're good liberals/conservatives.  To target some store manager, or line workers would create bad press, and undermine your position, despite it being consistent with the logic behind the reasons for the boycott.

So, no thank you.  I'll eat there when/if I feel like it (which admittedly hasn't been often at all, but my daughter does enjoy going as a treat, so that's not going to change).  I'll smile at the workers, they'll smile back, they'll say "my pleasure" EVERY time I say "thank you" (that's gotta be a corporate directive), and my daughter and I will enjoy some chicken. 

Just not that often.  Back to training again, so the fast food has to be limited.  Just not because I don't like where a company puts its money.

So if you catch me eating at a CFA, and want to ascribe a certain political/social bent to me because of that, you can be SURE I'll pick apart everything you're wearing or weilding, and we'll see whose hands are clean (hint:  nobody's).  Liberty means you get to eat at any lawful place of business you want.  If you can do so while wearing/using nothing from a company that does some sort of evil, enjoy.


Most of my friends online are left-leaning, so I will await unfriending/unfollowing/whatever over this.  I assure you -- I will be sorry to see you go, but if you go to the trouble to "alert" me that you're disassociating with me, I'll just roll my eyes at your outrage and block you.  I have zero problem with your disagreement, but if you want to end the association because of it, just do it, and save the drama for your other friends.

Monday, July 02, 2012

2009 Richmond Marathon Race Report

This is an old race report.  I'm going to post some of the ones from my older races as a bit of a clearinghouse.  I chose this one first, because it represents my PR in a Marathon.

Richmond Marathon 2009 race report

Or, how a chick named Ida really but a downer on my day . . .

I'd been watching the weather for Richmond for two weeks, while at the same time hearing from LOTS of people about Tropical Storm Ida, which was slamming into Virginia, sheeting rain, flooding, and generally causing havoc.  It missed the race itself, but the remnants of the good ol' Nor'Easter was still pretty obvious.  The James River was near flood level, prompting race organizers to plan a detour if necessary, the middle miles were awash in debris from the rain, and . . . it remained windy as, well, a Nor'Easter.  Not good.

After my Half in September (a 1:55), the MacMillian pace predictor said that I should run about a 4:03 marathon.  I figured that if I started training for Richmond in October (rather than my standard training for the January Dopey) I might be within striking distance of a sub-4 hour marathon.  Based on my training numbers, I think I was close, especially if conditions were ideal.

Hi, Ida.

Richmond was a fine course, and I really don't have a lot to quibble with them about.  But because of Ida, we had some oppressive winds, which we had to deal with at some pretty inopportune times. 

The first few miles (rougly 4) were right into a headwind, and I began a pretty earnest effort to avoid puddles, of where there were plenty.  I'm not sure how Richmond pulled off the race, actually, because the Governor wasn't THAT far away, inspecting disaster-area damage!

Anyway, by mile 6, we'd gotten out of the wind for a welcome respite, only to hit the first of quite a few significant hills on the course.  They don't LOOK horrible, but they feel especially awful in the later miles, and it just plain sucks to have an invisible hand pushing you in your chest while you're already trying to keep on pace AND climb.

Regardless, during my stretch from 7 to 12, I was back on pace, but not by a lot. We were down by the James River, and it was amazing to see (1) how high it was (it apparently missed flooding by a foot or two before the rain stopped), and (2) how much debris was everywhere.  Lots of felled trees, sticks, and mud.  Oh, the mud.  I was laughing to myself as a I saw how many people had mud on them, and wondered what they were doing, only to discover post race on the ride home, that the backs of my calves were LOADED with it.  Anyway, I was ahead of pace enough that I was thinking I might come in under 4, but was still worried about the later miles.  We'd had some climbs during 7 to 12 that were NOT fun, but I took a little solace that we were at least out of those winds for a bit.  Ida couldn't find us in the trees.

We came out of the woods, hit the halfway point, and turned towards the infamous Mile 15 Bridge of Doom.  This is where we met the winds AGAIN, and it was ridiculous.  Just gusting, blowing winds that you couldn't get away from.  My Garmin informs me that I pushed through it barely ahead of a sub-4 pace, but that illustrates the Hobson's Choice you have -- push through the wind and expend energy you need for later miles, or ease up, get pushed slower by the wind, and then have to expend a LOT of energy later to catch up.

After pushing on the bridge, I lost time on 16 catching my breath by easing up the pace, and had to work to make back some time from 17-18, even through they were hilly.  But, I re-caught the 4:00 pace group.  Just in time to again turn North into the headwinds, and life started to really suck again.  At this point, "option B" of the Hobson's choice showed why it is ALSO the wrong answer.  I had spent so much energy trying to get back on pace after slowing in the winds, that I was getting mauled by them again, and couldn't do much about it.

I continued to lose some time, and then, at mile 20, we had an uphill overpass, again with a strong headwind.  I was now a full minute off pace.  By mile 22, as we were out of the wind (I think?) but I was off-pace by a COUPLE of minutes, and had developed a pretty rough knot in my right calf.  It felt like a baseball under my skin.  My Garmin was going absolutely haywire trying to get a handle on my pace.  I'm not sure if it was the cloud cover from the storm, or my erratic pace, but it would go from the mid-7/mile, up to 10 minutes, back to the low 8s, and back to 10s, all in a short stretch.  I quit looking at it for pace guidance by that point, since I just couldn't trust what I was seeing.

So, I took my first walk break at 23, pretty much sick of my chest being buffeted, and literally laughing in disbelief that, despite my phone telling me the winds were supposed to be ONLY coming mainly from the North, we ALSO now had headwinds to contend with as we headed SOUTH.  The winds were truly a swirling mess out there today.  But, for a moment, when I started running again, I thought I could make up time and pull a rabbit out of my hat.  But as I quickly found out, I had just been beaten down with wind over the course of the race.  I lost even more time, as we had winds right up until mile 25, when ol' Ida finally cut us a break.  I skulked away with a finish just a few minutes over 4 hours.

I'm profoundly disappointed, but unlike a lot of past races, I'm not nearly as upset with myself.  You can't control the weather, and while we didn't run in the MIDDLE of a Nor'Easter, Ms. Ida definitely overstayed her welcome.  So it's like waiting to go to a baseball game, and then it's rained out.  The Dopey will not be an option for breaking 4, since I will have done 16 miles over the 2 days prior to the 26, so I'll settle for 4 and change and thank you all so very much for such kind e-mails and inquiries about my time. 

The results indicate that I finished exactly in the top 30% of all runners, which I'll take, although I wish the Chinese would hurry up with their reported weather control abilities.  I could have used a tailwind!  ;-)

One important lesson learned was this:  I ran though almost all water stops. I'd grab a cup, get a mouthful, toss, and then get another cup towards the exit of the water station for another cup.  I learned later that taking in not enough liquid likely had a great deal to do with my calf seizing up.  I won't make that mistake again.  Hydration, hydration, hydration.